James Warburton – “Do you need five sales directors?”

Bit of a bombshell on the front page of Ad News last Friday.

Seven Media Group sales and digital chief James Warburton came out and said that the group was working on a plan to consolidate its entire sales force as a way to cut costs but more importantly, package the integrated product better.

“We will not be selling Seven, Pacific Mags and Yahoo!7 as several seperate media groups” he said.

Now the thought isn’t a new one – this idea has been thrown around for the past 2 years – but he is the first person to come out and say that it will happen.

What would this do to the sales teams around the 3 businesses? If you have 5 sales directors you probably have 20-30 GSM’s across the 3 businesses as well as 60-80 Account Managers and Sales Execs. What sort of resource saving could an approach like this achieve?

Warburton is considered to be the premier sales operator in the country and a challenge like this is not above him if you ask most insiders.

If the group is looking at such a radical restructure, maybe it should look at whether it needs a JV partner within the digital space in AU.

Seven must be wondering what the Yahoo! element of the deal brings to the table when its strongest digital assets are from the Seven/Pacific side of the table. Yahoo!7’s strength is in Lifestyle, News and TV … it’s ‘network entry points’ – ie search, mail, messenger – are products with little if any growth.

3 years ago it wasn’t a bad move. Seven couldn’t create a successful digital business and had a string of embarassing failures behind it. Yahoo! brought to the table what was a top 2 digital brand, a good CMS and a string of leading products as well as a sales team and operations side that would have been difficult to setup from scratch.

Now it could be said that Yahoo!’s lack of direction globally is starting to impact on Yahoo!7 and distracting it from being excellent in the areas Seven and Pacific Magazines have build their reputations on – strong content around lifestyle and entertainment.

Anyway, Warburton should be applauded for his ambition and vision to stop talk about being integrated, and making the hard decisions to make it a reality.


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